Levitz's DCnU LEGION Mini Tells More SECRETS Than ORIGINS


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When DC approached Paul Levitz about writing the Legion: Secret Origin mini-series, he wasn't interested in telling yet another version of the Legion of Super-Heroes' founding.

But the writer did want to give new readers a primer on Legion history, introducing them to the exciting DC Universe of the 31st Century.

So in October, when Levitz launches the six-issue Secret Origin mini with artist Chris Batista, readers will not get a retelling of the Legion's origin.

Instead, the comic will concentrate on the "secret" part of its title, exploring the unknown parts of the founding events.

Legion: Secret Origin will begin just one month after the relaunch of the entire DC line, including Levitz's main Legion of Super-Heroes book. A second book titled Legion Lost will also launch in September, meaning the Secret Origin mini represents a third Legion comic for DC as it revamps its line this fall.

Levitz has been guiding the Legion since he left his role as DC's publisher in 2009, turning back toward his writing roots. This fall he will also write The Huntress mini-series, and is working on a Batman: Mortality story with Denys Cowan (which he confirmed to Newsarama, although that series has not been announced by DC).

Newsarama talked with Levitz to find out more about how his unique approach to the Legion: Secret Origin comic.

Newsarama: Paul, is one of the goals of this "secret origin" mini-series to re-tell the origin of the Legion so that new readers will be caught up on who the team is? So they'll understand the story of R.J. Brande and the founding members?

Paul Levitz: The first thing to point out about this comic is that it's not just a re-telling of the origin of the Legion. That's been done before, so we're going in a new direction with this. I think the Brande story takes up, maybe, a page?

But yes, hopefully, we'll make the Legion experience more accessible in many ways to people who have been daunted by the depth of the history of the Legion.

If you come in through this gate, you come in through "here's the science fiction of all of this from the moment it started."

Nrama: So if it's not a re-telling of the origin, how would you describe it?

Levitz: When DC first talked to me about this project, it really seemed to me that the goal should be to make this more "secret" and less "origin." I had done some stuff in Adventure only a year ago on the Legion's origin. And the [R.J.] Brande incident itself [which led to the Legion's origin] has been told a bunch of times already. It doesn't mean you can't tell it again, but if you're going to go to that, it's a very appropriate time to go to it with a fresh frame of mind and see what else you can do.

We don't know very much about the 31st Century at the moment the Legion comes into being. We never really had a chance to explore that. And there is rich territory there.

There's also a bunch of structural questions we've never really put much energy into. Why did some of these characters come to earth to become part of the Legion? If they come from a whole planet of people with those powers, are they exceptional among them? In a couple of cases, stories have established that, but in many cases we really don't know or have never seen the home planet. Why did they come? What's this about?

Then you get to the whole flip side of that and ask, why did the Legion become so important to the United Planets? We've established that there is, presumably, a giant Star Wars/Star Trek fleet floating around out there, and you have the Science Police, so why does it matter so much to have a bunch of young people running around in funny suits?

There should be answers to those questions, I think. And part of what I'm having fun exploring in this, is looking at that moment in time in a different way than we've ever done before.

Nrama: Can you tell us anything about how you're answering some of those questions?

Levitz: I'm positing that the moment that the Legion came into being is a point where the United Planets had been at relative peace for awhile, and had just been collecting back its old connections: colony worlds that it's reconnected with, or the seeded planets where its made peace, and incorporated a couple of the alien worlds, like Colu.

But I'm positing that there was something that we won't explore in any detail called The Sundering, sometime some hundreds of years before the time of the Legion, that had splintered Earth from all of its descendants, and this is just the time of pulling it back together again.

As our story opens, you have not a first contact moment, because you've had many different alien races and species in contact, but a sort of first "mysterious" contact. And that becomes the trigger for a lot of the events of the Legion's first moments in existence.

Through that mechanism, if we do our job right, we'll be able to explore all the "why's" of the Legion, and at least tell you some things about the backgrounds of a number of the characters that there has been no occasion to learn before, and maybe make them more interesting in the process.

Nrama: Will some of these new concepts you're introducing come into play in the regular Legion of Super-Heroes ongoing you're doing?

Levitz: Oh, I'm sure. If I last long enough, I like to connect everything. That's my evil approach to things.

Nrama: Will we see characters that we didn't realize were involved in the origin of the Legion?

Levitz: Yeah. You'll see some new characters that you didn't know were involved in the origin of the Legion. That will be very meaningful. And you'll see some other characters, at least one other major character, who did not have any revealed connections to the beginning of the Legion before.

Nrama: Does it concentrate mostly on Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad, the founding members?

Levitz: No. I don't think they say a word in the first issue.

You have to remember, it's the "secret" origin.

Nrama: Wow, so who do we see, and what is the problem they're facing as the story begins?

Levitz: The first character you see in the first issue of the Legionnaires is a very young Brainiac 5 being loaned out by the elders of Colu to the starfleet to solve a technological mystery that requires, basically, the smartest person in the universe.

It's something that has already blown up half a starship, destroyed a world and the United Planets has no idea what's going on.

And if you don't know, you go to your smartest guys, and the smartest guys of Colu go to their smartest guy, and their smartest guy is an adolescent.

Nrama: It sounds like it's more appropriate to call this "untold stories" of the Legion members, although it takes place at the time of the group's origin.

Levitz: Yeah. You should get an appreciation for a number of the characters in the process. When you sit there trying to write it, and you think about their being a classic order that fans -- counting myself as a fan -- had figured out of what order the Legionnaires joined, with some ambiguity about some pieces of it.

But we know someone like Phantom Girl has to show up right at the beginning. Although we really don't know why she came, and we don't really understand where the hell she came from. And we've never seen much of any of that, as opposed to the three founders whose lives are pretty well established. [Phantom Girl's] personality has been very well established over the years, I think, but this was a chance for me to look at it and say, "Oh, I never filled that in, during these 100 Legion stories that I've written? I never went back and touched any of that? Oh. OK. That's cool."

So we're using that, and connecting it more tightly. And it becomes a matter of putting all these jigsaw pieces together in a different way.

Nrama: Have you seen Chris Batista's art yet? It's probably pretty early for actual pages.

Levitz: Yeah, I've seen lots of character sketches and lots of design stuff. It's been great fun to work with an artist who loves the characters so much. Just having an artist who likes playing that way. We launched the books with a great lunch with me, Chris and Chris Conroy, who was the original editor on the series. We were just throwing ideas back and forth. Those things work when they're working well. The final ideas often aren't really anybody's, but are just the cumulative effect of "can you top this?" But yeah, Chris has great enthusiasm.

Nrama: Then to finish up, Paul, is there anything else you want to tell fans about the Legion: Secret Origin book?

Levitz: I just want to emphasize the accessibility of it. The comic should be a really great way for new readers to enter the world of the Legion, yet it should have enough new material to keep loyal readers entertained.

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